Mhambi has been redeployed.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Can columbia teach SA on crime?

10 Bogota - Columbia 020
Originally uploaded by Crash Davis1.
The UK Guardian reports on the astonishing success Columbia has had in cutting violent crime. The Brazilian city Rio has now decided to try and emulate the Columbian example.

Rio de Janeiro's newly elected governor, Sergio Cabral, recently announced plans to use Colombian security techniques in an attempt to pull the Brazilian city out of a cycle of violence that claims about 6,000 lives each year. According to a recent study of violence based on World Health Organisation figures, a total of 55,000 Brazilians were murdered in 2005.

Officials in Medellín, Cali and the capital, Bogotá, have presided over plummeting crime figures since the early 1990s. The initiatives included community policing schemes and increased investment in the police force, as well as educational projects which saw former gang members giving speeches in primary schools, additional street lighting and the modernisation of shantytowns.

In 1993 Bogotá was the scene of 4,352 homicides, or 80 killings per 100,000 inhabitants. This year the figure is 18 per 100,000 - a 75% drop and less than half that of Rio de Janeiro, which has a murder rate of about 42 per 100,000 inhabitants. There were 858 homicides in 2005-06 in England, Scotland and Wales.

Mhambi knows that there were some 18,793 homocides in 2005 in South Africa, of which 3,600 were in the province of Gauteng, which is really just Johannesburg and Pretoria. The ratio is 40.8 per 100,000 inhabitants for Gauteng. And 40.3 for the country as a whole. Very similar to the current level for Rio.

During a visit to Rio, Mr Velásquez - one of the Colombian security experts behind the anti-crime initiative - emphasised the need to mix social services with brute force. "It wasn't just police and the law," he told the O Dia newspaper. "[We asked ourselves] how many schools are there in this place? How many children studying? How many health clinics? Does the lighting work in this neighbourhood? Is there rubbish collection? Or rather, we went in with all of the institutions to make improvements."

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